By Skip Pullen, District Representative, Southwest District
The Natural Gift of the Small Church
Have you ever wondered how important the fellowship of the small church is? If you have ever attended a large church, it won’t be long until you discover that one of the areas they deal with is intimacy and connecting with one another. They work hard at establishing small groups, family life cells, and home Bible studies. This is something that comes naturally in the small church. I find it interesting how people claim to be Christian, but make little to no time to attend church, gather with other believers, or build relationships with other Christians.
As District Representatives with Village Missions, my wife and I often travel the northeast states. We visit the small, country churches up and down the east coast with whom the Mission partners. Yet when we are home, we make every effort to not only attend church services, but also other activities, of our local body of believers, as well as spending time with other brothers and sisters in Christ. It has been great to do this over the recent holidays. I have come to understand how much we need it for our own spiritual well being.
The day and age we live in is filled with all kinds of pulls, speculations, and subjective theories. We need to get with other believers to encourage and build up each other in our mutual faith in Christ. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
Our Need for Fellowship
Have you ever asked someone in to dinner and been told, “I can eat just as well at home”? Probably not. Yet sometimes when we invite or encourage people to join us for worship services or to attend a study group or church event, we may be told by those we ask that they can pray just as well at home, or that they listen to podcasts, or sermons on T.V. or the radio. This saddens my heart, not due to rejection, but that church has become so one dimensional to them. In their eyes, church is just performing religious acts; it’s not a fellowship of like-minded believers.
To be sure, praying at home is good to do, and popular preachers can really deliver a challenging sermon–but the Lord intends for His church to be so much more. This kind of fellowship can be found in the small church, the country church. It is where we can become stronger in our Christian walk.
Another Way to Look at It
Think of it like this: I enjoy hunting and fishing. One thing that gets me excited about these activities is hanging around and talking with other guys about their hunting and fishing experiences and getting their insights. Then I go out and try to duplicate their success and avoid their shortfalls. There’s a dynamic there that I can’t get from reading a book or watching a TV show. It’s the same for church.
Small Church, Large Church–True Church
A true church is a gathering of believers in Christ, with the Word of God purely preached and heard, and the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper rightly administered. There, the believer in Christ will be encouraged and built up in his/her faith. The Apostle Paul wrote, “And He [Christ] Himself gave some to be …pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, …from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:11-12;16).
If you don’t already attend a Bible-preaching church, why not check it out this weekend? You may come away encouraged; who knows, you may be an encouragement to others. Most of all, I hope you find the encouragement that comes with the fellowship of the small church.